Gardner-Denver may get building upgrades after all - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Gardner-Denver may get building upgrades after all

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Monroe manufacturer Gardner-Denver may get some building upgrades after all.

Last night the Monroe City Council voted against funding improvements to the building owned by the city. But now, council members say they support Gardner-Denver but are concerned if it is illegal for the Interstate-20 Board to pay for the project.

However, this gesture could be a little too late to protect Monroe's reputation in the business community.

Gardner Denver provides 300 jobs and has a $17- million payroll. Monroe Chamber of Commerce President Sue Nicholson said it took a lot of work to get the company to Monroe.

"We put a hard core press on that involved the governor, LED, the city government, the chamber, economic groups in the area. And did something that was unbelievable a David and Goliath win," Nicholson said.  

But Nicholson said the city council put all that in jeopardy when they didn't approve the upgrades to the building on Tuesday night in a three to two vote.

The city owns the building and Gardner-Denver is willing to pay more rent to offset improvement costs. 

Council member Gretchan Ezernak says the improvements were a part of the original incentive package promised by the previous council and approved by the I-20 economic development board. She said the original agreement should be honored. 

"We don't want that reputation for not standing up for what we said we were going to do," Ezernak said.  

Council Member Ray Armstrong voted no, but said he will bring the issue up again at the next meeting and this time vote yes.

But Nicholson is worried about the damage already done.

"You know one of the council members on television saying, ‘So businesses come and go," Nicholson said. "What an appalling statement for this community and future economic development efforts."

Nicholson said businesses are looking at the way the council and administration handle their issues while weighing the option to locate in Monroe.

But for now, the city can still brag about Gardner-Denver choosing to locate here.

We contacted Gardner-Denver, but they have not commented.

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